At age 88, saxophonist and flutist Frank Wess proves that you do get better with time. His latest cd “Once Is Not Enough” features some of best jazz musicians in game. Artists like Terell Stafford, Steve Turre, Winard Harper, Rufus Reid, Gerald Clayton, and Peter Washington.
Born Frank Wellington Wess on January 4th, 1922 in Kansas City, Missouri but moved to Washington, DC when he was ten. Early as a child he began playing the saxophone and eventually the flute when he attended high school. Wess began playing jazz in high school where he was classmates with the legendary Dr. Billy Taylor. He started out on alto and eventually advanced to tenor. Upon graduation he played for the Army during World War II where played the tenor sax and clarinet.
Upon his return from the war he backed musicians like Bull Moose Jackson, Lucky Millinder, and Billy Eckstine. He grew tired of hitting the road so he played professionally around the Washington, DC area. In 1953 Count Basie asked him to join has band where he became one of his arrangers as well as tenor saxophonists and flutists. During his stint with Basie his bandmates included Harry “Sweets” Edison, Joe Newman, Marshal Royal, Frank Foster, and Snooky Young. Wess played with Basie until 1964 where he won the Downbeat Poll Awards for best flautist six years in a row.
Frank is a 2007 NEA Jazz Master inductee and is still touring all over the world. To order his latest disc or to find out his upcoming tour dates, visit him on the web at frankwess.org.
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